Gary Lineker to return to MOTD after suspension over social media posts

Lineker drew backlash from Conservative ministers for his criticism of the government’s policy for asylum seeker.

Gary Lineker will return to presenting Match of the Day and an independent review will be carried out into social media guidance, the BBC has announced.

The presenter’s time on air was suspended “until an agreement was reached on his social media use” last week.

Lineker drew backlash from Conservative ministers for his criticism of the government’s policy for asylum seekers, in which he likened the language of the Government to that of Germany in the 1930s.

BBC director-general Tim Davie confirmed on Monday that the presenter will return to the flagship football highlights show this weekend and apologised after the decision provoked a mass walkout of other sports pundits on the corporation’s television and radio programming.

“Everyone recognises this has been a difficult period for staff, contributors, presenters and, most importantly, our audiences. I apologise for this,” he said in a statement.

“The potential confusion caused by the grey areas of the BBC’s social media guidance that was introduced in 2020 is recognised. I want to get matters resolved and our sport content back on air.”

Match Of The Day aired for only 20 minutes on Saturday without accompanying commentary or analysis from presenters, with Sunday’s edition following a similar format and running for a reduced 15 minutes.

Announcing an independent review in the BBC’s guidance on social media usage, Davie continued: “Impartiality is important to the BBC. It is also important to the public.

“The BBC has a commitment to impartiality in its Charter and a commitment to freedom of expression.

“That is a difficult balancing act to get right where people are subject to different contracts and on air positions, and with different audience and social media profiles.

“The BBC’s social media guidance is designed to help manage these sometimes difficult challenges and I am aware there is a need to ensure that the guidance is up to this task. It should be clear, proportionate, and appropriate.”

The review will have a “particular focus” on how it applies to freelancers outside news and current affairs.

Lineker said: “I am glad that we have found a way forward. I support this review and look forward to getting back on air.”

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